June 16, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The chieftain of the Misseriya tribe’s branch known as the Mekainees al-Mazaghna, Daoud Malik Hadada has denied involvement of his tribesmen in attacks against Ngok Dinka on Sunday in the contested area of Abyei which led to the killing of 4 people and looting of 66 head of cattle.
- Soldiers on patrol in the contested oil-producing area of Abyei, which is claimed by both Sudan and South Sudan (Photo: Reuters)
The paramount chief of the nine Ngok Dinka chiefdoms of the disputed region of Abyei, Bulabek Deng Kuol, had said that the attack was carried out by a group of Misseriya and the Sudanese army.
“The attackers used a very advanced tactic that is much bigger than the capabilities of the Misseriya. This is an organised force”, Kuol said.
The Sudanese army has yet to confirm or deny these claims.
Hadada told Sudan Tribune that his tribesmen live in Dafra area which is located 50 kilometers north of the Ngok Dinka areas, underscoring that Misseriya herders did not travel to Ngok Dinka area of Agok which is located 30 kilometers south of Abyei.
He stressed that there are no Sudanese troops in Abyei, saying the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) is the only force present in the area.
The tribal chief predicted that clashes likely took place between Ngok Dinka and Nuer tribes in Abiemnom area which is located 20 kilometers away from Abyei, pointing to tensions between the two tribes due to the ongoing conflict in South Sudan.
The Arab Misseriya nomads spend around 8 months south of Abyei area every year for grazing before they travel north along with their livestock which is estimated at 10 million head of cattle.
Juba claims that Sudan is trying to forcefully settle members of the Khartoum-aligned Misseriya tribe in the hopes this would block any attempt by its Ngok Dinka residents to return the area to the South from where it was transferred to the Kordofan region in central Sudan in 1905 during the colonial era.
The status of Abyei was addressed in the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), but a planned referendum to decide the future of the region never went ahead due to disagreement over who would be eligible to vote.
Khartoum wants the Misseriya, who enter the area with their cattle for part the year, to participate, whereas Juba maintains that under the deal only those permanently residing in the area are eligible to take part.
After waiting almost three years for agreement between Khartoum and Juba over their plebiscite the Southern-aligned Ngok Dinka held a unilateral vote in October last year in which they almost unanimously opted to join South Sudan.
The voting result was dismissed by Khartoum and downplayed in Juba as the South Sudanese government did not want to jeopardize its renewed ability to export its oil through Sudanese territory.